K-State's Erik Kynard competes in the men's high jump during the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa on June 7, 2012. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
WALNUT, Calif. – A busy weekend of track and field action came to a close late Saturday for the Kansas State Wildcats with three meets on the schedule at some highly competitive events and one Wildcat put his name on top of the world rankings.
Senior high jumper Erik Kynard was up against some of the best jumpers in the world at the Mt. SAC Relays with a total of four Olympians from the 2012 London Olympic Games in the field. Kynard went toe-to-toe with 2011 IAAF World Champion Jesse Williams and Canada’s Michael Mason as all three cleared 2.31 meters (7-07.00), but it was only Kynard who could leap over the bar at 2.34 meters (7-08.00) to set a new Mt. SAC Relays record while tying his own school record. The jump is the best in the world this season outdoors.
“Erik jumped well. I think this was one of his best meets ever,” said K-State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto. “We had a lot of solid marks today at both the meets we competed at in California. Probably, the most impressive was the men’s 4x400. All four guys ran really well.”
The Wildcats saw the team of Ifeanyi Otuonye, Carlos Rodriguez, Jay-J Parks and Chris Campbell finish fourth behind a team from Japan, Western Kentucky and Big 12 foe Texas Tech. K-State crossed the line in 3:06.64, just .21 behind Texas Tech. The time also ranks third in school history.
K-State did have strong marks in all its events at the Mt. SAC Relays with Rodriguez running 10.49 in a special 100 meters invitational. Freshman Jasmine Gibbs ran 11.54 seconds in an invitational 100 meters as well to shave just a bit off her personal record and still stand at second in school history.
The women’s group of Samantha McKnight, Richelle Farley, Ashley Williams and Tia Gamble ran to a third-place finish in the 4x100 relay in 45.53 seconds and the men had a team finish sixth.
At the Beach Invitational, hosted by Long Beach State, K-State also saw strong marks, especially from the distance runners. Fernando Roman became the seventh running in K-State history to crack the nine-minute mark in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. He crossed the line in 8:59.86 to finish fourth. He shaved nearly eight seconds off his fastest previous time set at the Big 12 Championship last year.
Sophomore Erika Schiller ran a new PR in the 1,500 meters at the Beach Invitational and Martina Tresch ran to an eighth-place finish in an elite invitational of the 1,500 meters against some very strong runners.
Two hurdlers ran well at the Beach Invitational as well with Tarique Hill running a new PR of 14.06 seconds to post a K-State victory and move into ninth in school history. Angela Hart ran her fastest time the 400 meter hurdles as she finished in 1:01.05 to move into ninth in school history as well.
K-State’s third meet on Saturday was the Kansas Relays with a small group of throwers leading the way.
Senior Jessica Carter was the top Wildcat in the women’s discus with a throw of 50.37 meters (165-03) for her best mark of the season and coming up just short of her personal record. Jacquelyne Leffeler was close behind in sixth place with redshirt freshman Dani Winters in 10th. On the men’s side, Ryan Hershberger finished 11th.
Ryan Hershner was the only Wildcat running on Saturday at the Kansas Relays and he put together his best performance of the season as well. He crossed the line in 3:55.51 in the 1,500 meters for his fastest time this year and just a step behind the winner, falling by about half a second. Senior Kyle Hanson was competing unattached at the Kansas Relays and finished third in the seeded 800 meters with a time of 1:51.01 for a new PR.
Also on Friday night in California, the Wildcats had a handful of sprinters compete at the Brian Clay Invitational hosted by Azusa Pacific. Williams ran a new PR in the 100 meters to finish second in 11.85 seconds while McKnight took sixth in 12.05 seconds. Williams would also finish sixth in the 200 meters. The men had a trio in the 200 meters led by sophomore Carlos Rodriguez with his time of 20.79 seconds in second place. Otuonye and Tyris Jefferson took seventh and eighth place, respectively.
K-State was not originally scheduled to compete at the Bryan Clay Invitational but was able to be entered after the cancellation of the Cal State L.A. Twilight Open on Friday.
The Wildcats have one more week of competition and practice before heading south to Waco, Texas, for the Big 12 Conference Championships hosted this year by Baylor.